July turned out to be a month of minimal reading and writing. I only read one book worth mentioning here and my fiction writing was almost non-existent. Reading time was spent on physical fitness books and philosophy centered on masculinity, finance, and lifestyle. In the near future, I’m going to write about my workout regimen and recommend some great books on fitness, but that topic deserves its own post and dedicated discussion.
Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose, was the one book I managed to read for pleasure. A fascinating and detailed look at Benjamin Tallmadge’s Culper Ring, a Patriot spy network working out of British occupied New York during the American Revolution. The young officer Tallmadge became the spymaster and handler for a group of The young officer Tallmadge became the spymaster and handler for a group of fascinating individuals and the book takes an in depth look at their communications, mostly done through letters using invisible ink, and the trial and error methods they used to set up an effective chain of communication between themselves and General Washington.
The early modern era from about the Reformation up tends to be my favorite when it comes to history and I especially love the Revolutionary War. I also enjoy history focused on day to day life away from the military and battles, so this book was perfect. Reading through letters between the Culpers gave me a better understanding of life during the Revolution. For example, there was a good amount of discussion about raids between non-regular Royalists and Patriots, who often attacked civilians indiscriminately and were more concerned with loot than with the principles of war. Not to mention the fascinating look into life in occupied New York and the massive black market, red light districts, and illegal activity that sprung up out of vice and necessity.
Revolutions: A Weekly Podcast. On the topic of history, I wanted to mention this podcast, which has been part of my daily life for the last few months. I listen to it every morning on the way to work and every afternoon on the way home. I catch myself looking forward to driving just so I can do some listening. Right now the I’m getting towards the end of the French Revolution. Robespierre is no more, the Thermadorians are in charge, and well-dressed Dandies are roaming the streets beating their opponents with large sticks. The French Revolution is terrifying, a well-intentioned start that spiraled into terror and mass murder. Contrasting the philosophy and personalities of this revolution with the American one is interesting. What kept the American Patriots from slipping into the same insanity that engulfed the Jacobins? What kept strong personalities like Adams, Washington, and Hamilton from becoming tyrants and murderers like Robespierre and Saint-Just?
Reading a book about spies put me in the mood for some modern day espionage so I bought some Le Carre to scratch that itch. I also need to find a few good books about the French Revolution and maybe do a bit of reading about that famous Corsican, a personality I don’t know much about outside of popular culture. So any recommendations are welcome.